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Do you find it amusing how some folks are handling the news this week that G+ surpassed Twitter in total monthly active users?

I can't decide whether people are still just in denial that G+ is growing or if there are a just lot of people who don't want to see G+ succeed bad enough that they post the same nonsense over and over again. Its probably a combination of both. 

I got sucked in to responding to a few comments this week on some articles and realized it was almost always the same silly objections. And so, for those interested in responding to some of this ridiculousness, here are the most common objections followed with a little dose of reality:

"Google is just sneaky about who they consider an active user."
For starters, these numbers this week didn't come from Google. They came from a independent firm called Global Web Index that did a study on the number of users who have contributed to each network at least once in the last month. There is no conspiracy here.

Some folks consider it sneaky because you are now signed up for G+ when you open a new Gmail account or activate an Android phone for the first time. But that would only apply if the study included those numbers, which it specifically does not. It was clearly specified that the numbers are only people who have contributed to the site in the last month (posting, sharing, +1'ing). This objection would only be valid if you were questioning the validity of G+ total users which are reportedly much higher.

And while we are on the subject of sneaky, let's consider the elephant in the room. If you "Like" a website you are considered an active Facebook user regardless of whether you ever visit the Facebook site. If you comment on a website using your FB credentials you are considered an active user of Facebook regardless of whether maintain a profile or not. That's all fine and dandy in my book, but when those users are represented as active users of the social network it gets a little questionable.  Especially when a G+ user who logs in to Youtube with their G+ credentials is someone who "shoulnd't be counted" as an active G+ user. Its a blatant double standard.


"These aren't users who are posting to the G+ stream."
If posting to a social network's stream was the only measure of activity you'd have to rule out all those things you can do on Facebook that fall outside of sharing content:
<> the folks who play games all day on FB but never post anything socially
<> the time users spend uploading photos that never get shared
<> the time spent watching Youtube videos on Facebook's site
<> simply commenting and "Liking" on websites outside of Facebook 
<> using Facebook's instant messaging
<> simply being logged in and reading content but not posting anything

The point being that if you want to compare only activity in G+ stream, you need to compare it against only the similar activity in other networks. Its yet another double standard to compare all Facebook activity but only a very narrowly defined use of G+. You can't have it both ways. Either compare the people who actively post in G+ streams to the people who actively post on FB, or compare them across however they use the respective sites. There are a lot more uses to G+ outside of posting in a stream.


"This is just a collection of usage across all Google services."
Aside from the study specifically stating that is not true, the real point is who cares? One of the big benefits of Google using G+ as a central log-in across all its services is the ease of use.

Imagine if Facebook required a separate log in to play games, to post photos, to watch a video, to send a message, to post a picture, etc. The very idea is unimaginable. Yet Google has all these very successful products and services and is attempting to merge them into a single log-in and suddenly people are crying foul? This objection just hasn't been very well thought out.

You can't blame Google for trying to make their ecosystem more refined when you don't hold others to the same standard. The only valid complaint should be that they didn't do it sooner.


"These aren't real numbers, Google forced everyone to join."
This one is old. Its like a single guy complaining about having to buy a passenger seat with his car. 

G+ is a feature of the Google ecosystem, and whether you are using Youtube, Blogger, Android, Gmail, Maps, Drive, the Play Store, Local, Analytics, Picasa, or any of Google's services, you are using the Google ecosystem. All indications are that there will be a time in the near future when you sign up for Google and all those features just come as a package regardless of whether you intend to use them all or just some, including G+.

Its no different than signing up for Facebook and having access to its games even if you never intend to play a game. We don't talk about Facebook Games usage or Facebook Messaging usage, we talk about Facebook usage. G+ is simply a feature of Google and its Google usage that will ultimately be what counts. People just can't come to terms with that yet, but they will.


"G+ has always had exaggerated accounts because there are plenty of inactive or abandoned profiles"
The double standard continues. Are we to believe no one on Twitter has abandoned their account? Is G+ really the only social network that doesn't have 100% usage across all its users? Come on.

And if you want exaggerated accounts, let's take a look at some of the issues in regards to Facebook that we know of:
<> they were forced to admit to over 80 million fake accounts
<> spam bot accounts were found to be clicking “likes” 
<> their numbers are filled with users who have multiple accounts just to play games
<> they have used cookies to keep you logged in long after you leave
<> they make it nearly impossible for the average user to understand how to actually delete their profile
There is a reason why the numbers Facebook reports (a billion+ users) never correspond to what any independent study comes up with.

The reality is all these social networks exaggerate the upside, but none can hide from the trends. These independent reports clearly illustrate that G+ is trending upward at a significant rate in spite of the negative media attention and in spite of many people being in total denial.


"These are likely the same users who are also on Facebook and Twitter"
This is true, but it doesn't mean what most people think it means. There are a number of users who are on Facebook and G+, but that doesn't mean they are active on both.

Many G+ users maintain their Facebook accounts just to check back in occasionally, but this is no different than driving by your old address to pick up your mail. These people may show up as active Facebook users, but they are hardly invested in the network. Without taking this into account the numbers illustrate a false sense of durability for Facebook.

I have a pair of jeans that sit in the back of my closet that I have had for years because I wear them for yard work on the rare occasion. But if you tried to tell me I actively wear them just because I still own them I'd tell you that your crazy.

Many of these old Facebook accounts will likely never be deleted because they make it so impossibly difficult but also because there is no reason for users to do it. One can be completely active on G+ and keep their Facebook profile forever. Why not? But unless you dig deep you are not going to get the real story.

 
"Yeah they are active on G+ but they don't know their using it."
My absolute favorite of the week!  This of course is just one more to add in the long list of reasons used to explain away G+ growth by those in total denial. I've said this before but its worth pointing out again:

What we are seeing is just the evolution of justifications trying to deny the fact that G+ steadily growing.  
<> At 10 million users it was: "only Google employees use it"
<> At 40 million users it was: "but its still a ghost town"  
<> At 90 million users it was: "sure it has users, but they only use it a few minutes a month"
<> At 110 million users it was: "yeah well Google employees aren't even using it"
<> At 135 million users it is: "OK, there are active users but they are being forced use it."
<> At 300 million users it is: "Sure they're active, but they don't even know they are using it." (just priceless!)
<> At X million users it will be: (some new updated excuse)

And so the endless denial that G+ is growing continues...



+Vic Gundotra 
#googleplus  
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8 comments
 
Yes I Do! Its actually Hilarious because some of The Users can't believe it yet they account for the numbers!
 
Uhhmm... Did you get your meds taken care of?
 
Thanks for the comments. Not quite sure what was meant by +John Lilly's comment though.
 
Thankfully I'm not the only one that has seen all you've mentioned. The great thing about your post is that, in spite of the naysayers, G+ keeps growing. And yes, the haters will continue to try to justify their dwindling numbers. Excellent post!
 
Well written, Marc. I went through the process of requesting that my deceased mother's Facebook profile be turned into a "legacy page." I never heard back from anyone at Facebook. One gets the impression that Zuckerman doesn't really give a hoot about what individual users think or want. He only gives in to public pressure when enough people complain. There is no simple process to make a request or complaint and (I'm assuming) inadequate or nonexistent staff to respond. 
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